Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Barefoot in the Snow

The snow was supposed to fall all through the night, but it had stopped accumulating by 10PM. The streets were warm from earlier days so with the cars passing over and mashing it and the strong spring sunshine they were dry by mid-afternoon. I was Elliott's entertainment most of the day so around three I took him out in the running stroller and hung the Vibram Five Fingers from the brake lever. He immediately fell asleep.

At almost a mile out I had to put the VFFs on because the pedestrian path we needed to take had not been plowed. The 12 inches of snow that had fallen had compressed to about six inches which created a nice uphill workout pushing the stroller. My feet became immediately cold. I took off the VFFs when we reached the end of the path and ran on the streets of the adjoining neighborhood. I had assumed that a major sidewalk along 95th Street would have been plowed, but it wasn't; I had to run about a quarter mile with the VFFs and by the time a reached a neighborhood I could duck into and run on their streets my feet were numb.

I must have been rather a source of amusement as drivers watched me navigate the running stroller over snowbanks at intersections and then pick my way over them barefoot. I was out for almost an hour and only ran four miles. Pushing a running stroller may be a good way help a new barefoot runner keep a gentle controlled pace. It's also nice to have something to put some of your weight on while brushing grit off your soles.

My observation is that there is just the right step for running barefoot, a sweet spot in a stride sense. If you find it, there seems to be almost no abrasion of the feet. I have had a callous for a long time in the middle of the ball of my foot, maybe from running in running shoes. This callous seems somewhat incompatible with what needs to be happening with the bottoms of my feet now. There was pain there and when I was done I noticed a red line which looked somewhat like a fissure under the surface. I could still feel that my calves were getting a work out. I am keeping my pace and distance conservative until I see how my knees hold up. I had some runner's knee symptoms when I was running seven miles in the VFF's or Nike Frees. I certainly feel optimistic at this point, but I need to wait until I have a significant miles to make any kind of judgment on running barefoot. Running with the bare feet on pavement certainly trains one to have a ginger foot strike. The plan for tomorrow is to go for a longer run in Asics.

1 comment:

  1. I commented before and it's gone! Maybe it didn't like a one word comment. I'll extend it: Icing while running - good multitasking!